Paid Holidays in Hawaii (2024 Guide for Employers)

You might wonder why a business owner operating in Hawaii would bother to offer paid holidays to their employees. After all, there’s nothing in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that requires it. Paid holidays are a completely optional feature to offer to your employees.

And while some business owners do elect to not offer them, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that 80% of business owners do. Why?

In this post, we’re going to break down everything a Hawaii business owner needs to know about paid holidays, including topics such as:

  • An overview of Paid Holidays
  • How Paid Holidays impact the public sector vs the private sector
  • Federal vs State Holidays
  • Hawaii-specific Paid Holidays
  • The Benefits of Offering Paid Holiday Time
  • Other FAQs
  • How Buddy Punch helps you manage Paid Holidays

What is a Paid Holiday?

A paid holiday is a religious, state, or national holiday that Hawaii employers have the eligibility to grant employees. If they do so, their employees will be compensated a full day’s worth of wages despite taking the holiday off. The U.S. Department of Labor makes it clear that a private business owner is under no obligation to provide any paid holidays off.

Who do Paid Holidays apply to?

Only public employers are required by federal law to provide paid holidays to their employees. Public sector employees include anyone working for agencies at the municipal, state, or federal level. These are taxpayer-funded organizations that tend to provide services to the public, and state employees seem to be rewarded with time off as compensation for their service.

That established, if a private employer chooses to offer paid holidays (as many do) they are held by employment law to whatever agreement they outline in their PTO policy, employment contract, or other documentation.

Federal Holidays

The list of all 2024 federal holidays to be observed (regardless of what state you’re in) and the date they fall on is as follows:

  • New Year’s Day (Monday, January 1)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, January 15)
  • George Washington’s Birthday / President’s Day (Monday, February 19)
  • Memorial Day (Monday, May 27 – Last Monday in May)
  • Juneteenth National Independence Day (Wednesday, June 19)
  • Independence Day (Thursday, July 4)
  • Labor Day (Monday, September 2)
  • Columbus Day / Fraternal Day / American Indian Heritage Day(Monday, October 14)
  • Veterans Day (Monday, November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28)
  • Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25)

Some of these federal holidays have different names or natures that change across state lines. For example, in some areas Robert E. Lee Day is celebrated instead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Note: there are a few rules that apply to all holidays. For example, if a holiday falls on a Saturday, employees are given the Friday before the holiday off. If a holiday happens to land on a Sunday, employees get a day off the following Monday.

Holidays Specific to the State of Hawaii

*Election Day happens on even-numbered years.

Impact of Common Hawaii Leave Laws

While we’re observing the overall impact of paid holidays on work hours, let’s take a look at Hawaii’s Labor Laws.

Sick Time

Hawaii does not currently have any laws that dictate employers must provide sick leave. However, Hawaii employers must make their general PTO and leave policies available to employees in writing or through a notice posted in a place visible to employees. Whether or not that policy will include sick time is entirely up to the individual employer, as is how they would allow said sick leave to accrue.

Vacation Leave and Holiday Time

Hawaii does not require employers to provide vacation leave to their employees. It is entirely up to employers if they’re going to offer holiday leave, though they must make sure their approach is clearly outlined in the PTO policy. Additionally, in the case of requiring team members to work on a proposed holiday, Hawaii state law does not require employers to compensate employees with holiday pay.

Parental Leave

There is currently no law in effect in Hawaii that requires employers to provide parental leave. At most, there are certain circumstances and health conditions where the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) kicks into effect for eligible employees.

Bereavement Leave

Bereavement leave for a family member death is another type of leave that is not required to be offered by Hawaii employers. Employers may choose to provide it in their company policy or in any bargaining agreements.

Jury Duty

Hawaii employers are not required to pay employees while they are serving on jury duty. On the other hand, Hawaii employees are protected from being terminated while serving on jury duty.


Hawaii employers must provide a maximum of two consecutive hours off from work, excluding lunch or rest periods, in order to vote. Employers may not subject voters to penalty, rescheduling of normal hours, or deductions from salary or wages because of such absence.

However, this does not apply to employees whose work hours include a period of two consecutive hours while the polls are open when the employee is not working for the employer. In this case, it’s up to the employee to take the time to vote. Polling place hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Overtime Pay

Hawaii overtime follows the same rules as most standard types. Hours worked exceeding 8 hours in a single workday or 40 hours in a workweek count as overtime hours, meaning overtime pay is due at one and a half times an employee’s regular rate of pay.

The Benefits of Paid Holidays

Hawaii is a particularly hands-off state when it comes to paid holidays and paid leave. From Honolulu to Hilo, a business owner can be as conservative with paid time off as they wish.

However, we feel that it’s much smarter if an employer opts to be more generous with paid leave, rather than less. There are a couple of noteworthy benefits to offering more paid holidays to your employees:

1. Paid Holidays Attract Higher Quality Workers to Your Business

Work/life balance has been a sticking point for employees ever since the pandemic, and a core component of this is how much paid leave employers are willing to offer to their team members. While not every prospective employee will be able to pick and choose between employers based on paid holidays, the more desirable ones (with more job offers) will. This means that a beefy benefits package, including generous PTO accrual and paid holidays, can help your business attract the type of worker that will have a significant positive impact on your bottom line.

2. Paid Holidays Improve Your Work Environment

Working with team members that are overworked and stressed is no fun for anyone. That’s the type of worker you’re more likely to get if team members aren’t given time off to recharge their mental faculties. A paid break allows a team member to take off guilt-free to relax, or even to order things in their personal lives that may be weighing on them during working hours. After the break, team members come in ready to work, communicate, and cooperate, which contributes to a more productive work environment for all.

3. Paid Holidays Save Your Company Money

This benefit might seem a little hard to believe since a paid holiday is literally paying an employee not to work. However, the long-term impact of offering paid holidays helps ensure that team members are able to take a break from work and come back refreshed, as we highlighted above. This is more than just a temporary bonus. Breaks help team members keep focus on their tasks in the long-term, which makes them less likely to fall prey to stress and overwork, which could result in sloppy work that costs time and money to fix. But the worst-case scenario would be overworked employees quitting.

While some employers might not mind the idea of employees quitting if they aren’t offered enough breaks, perhaps believing they can just find employees that can stomach working under those conditions, we think it’s best to consider the financial impact of replacing an employee. Exact amounts vary, but the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that replacing a worker costs six to nine months of an employee’s salary. It’s far more financially responsible to focus on improving employee retention rather than dealing with employee replacement.

All these long-term benefits add up to one conclusion: holiday pay is worth the cost.

Use Buddy Punch to Stay on Top of Paid Holidays

Now that we’ve outlined the rules and benefits around Paid Holidays and leave in Hawaii, it’s time to help you manage them. While tracking employee time, schedules, and payroll can seem difficult enough without adding paid holidays to the task, the use of employee management software can quickly streamline all of these processes. For a clear example, look no further than our very own Buddy Punch.

Take our Paid Time Off Management Feature. With this, you have the ability to monitor standard PTO types as well as creating your own custom ones at will. If your employees put in a paid leave request, you can configure Buddy Punch to send a notification to you and/or administrators or your HR department. This sets you up for quick and easy approval or denial of each request. Buddy Punch also has a built-in PTO accrual option to take the pain out of calculation and tracking.

Lastly, Buddy Punch allows you to enable a self-service approach to paid time off on an employee-by-employee basis. You can set it so that trusted staff are automatically approved for any paid time off they request. This works as an incentive for other team members, and allows you to focus on optimizing other aspects of your business instead of managing paid leave.

All of this, and we’ve only touched on one single feature included in Buddy Punch. Our feature has a lot more to offer when it comes to time tracking, staff scheduling, and payroll.

Click here to view a demo video, or click here to start a 14-day free trial of Buddy Punch.

Hawaii leaves it up to business owners to decide how they’re going to handle paid holidays and leave. This presents an opportunity for a savvy business owner to stand out from their competitors by being generous with paid leave, setting your business up for long-term success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

So, offering PTO of any kind is optional in Hawaii?

Yes. Other then cases when the federal FMLA takes effect, Hawaii does not have any laws revolving around paid leave. It is left entirely up to employers.

Do Hawaii employers have to pay out unused PTO in case of termination?

No, Hawaii employers are not required to pay out unused PTO unless they agree to do so in their company policy. They can even institute a use-it-or-lose-it policy for paid time off, requiring employees to use any banked paid time off by the end of the calendar year, rather than letting it rollover.

Do employers tend to offer employees all 11 paid federal holidays?

According to a survey conducted by Zippia, the average U.S. employees receive 7.6 paid holidays. The two most common paid holidays are Thanksgiving and Christmas, while President’s Day and New Year’s Eve are the two least common.

How much is the minimum wage in Hawaii?

As of January 1, 2024, Hawaii’s minimum wage is $14 per hour. This is due to increase incrementally, going up to $16 per hour Jan. 1, 2026, and to $18 per hour Jan. 1, 2028.

Official State Resources

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of Hawaii Holiday & Paid Leave Laws but does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in Hawaii, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

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